10 Mistakes that Candidates Make on LinkedIn

At MBK Search, we have looked at tens of thousands of profiles over the years. We’ve seen great profiles and we’ve seen some downright terrible ones. Here is our list of what we consider the biggest fails that a candidates make with their profiles.

Someone once told me that if a candidate isn’t on LinkedIn, they do not exist. While a bit extreme, there may be some truth to that statement. Let’s face it, LinkedIn is the most important career networking tool out there…period. It allows members to build, nurture, and grow professional networks in ways that can be immensely valuable for job seekers. We are firm believers in the power of a strong LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, we encounter far more bad and mediocre ones than good. Wondering if your profile is up to par? Do not despair…a simple internet search will yield some very good and meaningful best practices. As a matter of fact, there are entire courses out there that one can take to learn how to conquer LinkedIn. We’ll leave it to the experts to provide helpful hints to take your profile to the next level and focus instead on some common mistakes that candidates frequently make.

So what makes a bad profile? At MBK Search, we have looked at tens of thousands of profiles over the years. We’ve seen great profiles and we’ve seen some downright terrible ones. Here is our list of what we consider the biggest fails that a candidates make with their profiles:

1. Not having a professional photograph – Would you show up to a networking event in a bathing suit and flip-flops? Every user should have a clear professional headshot of themselves…it’s 2019, come on! If your profile has you with pictured with a pet, boozing/partying it up, draped in someone’s arms, standing on top of a mountain, or you have no picture at all – you need to fix it immediately.

2. No connections – If your are on LinkedIn, but have no connections do you even exist? Put in the effort, take some time to connect with people in that you know, it will go a long way. That’s the whole point of social networking.

3. Certifications next to your name – We know you worked hard on your certifications, but unless you are an actual medical doctor, please reserve them for the body of your profile. An alphabet soup of badges looks messy, clutters up your profile, and not everyone knows what they mean. By all means, include them in the body of your profile…just not in your name.

4. Incomplete experience and/or education – What’s the number one way to ensure that recruiters pass you over? An incomplete profile. Enough said.

5. “False flagging” a degree – A pet peeve of ours is when we see someone who lists an elite school in their education, only to find out that their only connection to said school is that they took a seminar or Coursera class offered there. Unless you applied, got accepted, and received a diploma – it doesn’t count. It’s not an actual degree, it comes across as dishonest, and is a red flag. Again, mention it in your profile but please don’t put “Yale” in your education if you took some leadership seminar there…it just doesn’t sit right.

6. Spelling and Grammar Errors – Really? In the days of spelling and grammar check, it blows the mind that we are having this conversation. It comes across as sloppy and will get you passed over. We use Grammarly and we love it!!!

8. Overly verbose or lengthy profile – Contrary to popular belief, a LinkedIn Profile is not a “cut and paste” version of your resume or a personal blog. It should be short, sweet, and to the point. Recruiters will quickly move on if it isn’t…

9. Referring to yourself in the third person – We know your name, we know you own the profile…why would you refer to yourself as Joe, Sally, or he/she? Make it personal…that’s the whole point, to get others to want to engage with you.

10. Dead Profile – As recruiters, we are on LinkedIn all day, every day…obviously that is overkill for a regular (or sane person). However, a dead profile with no updates or activity is a fail as well. Try to log in every couple of days or once a week – you never know if your dream opportunity is waiting for you.

Let us know what other LinkedIn fails you can think of!